Feb 17th, 2014

Category: Philosophy


I am often asking my guests on the “C’est la Vie with Selah V!” show what motivates them to workout. Of course, I’ve been given a wide variety of responses such as “competition goals”, “so I can eat more”, “love of exercise”, etc. One guest recently replied simply: HABIT. This struck me because I realized that is exactly what gets me to the gym everyday. Habit steps in on those days when you feel like staying in bed an extra hour. And it’s habit that gets you to your favorite class on Saturday morning instead of going to brunch with the gals. Habit is ultimately more powerful than any motivation goal you can conjure up because we human beings LOVE habit and crave routine.

In an article from, author Ian Newby-Clark defines habit, saying, “When we are doing something that is habitual, we are not engaged in the task in the same way as when we are doing something that is not habitual.”

In the context of exercise and eating right, this takes the emotional quotient completely out of the picture. You don’t need to worry about “feeling” like exercising…you just do it, just like you do any other habit like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. And the same goes for other healthy HABITS: eating your veggies, drinking water, and the list goes on and on.

It really puts the Nike slogan “Just Do It” in a new light! But in order to “Just Do It”, you have to create the habit, establish the routine. And how do you do this? Here are my top 5 tips for creating new habits:

1. Make TINY changes first:
Don’t be a super hero. Change one small thing at a time. Maybe you start by setting your alarm just 5 minutes earlier everyday and do 5 minutes of jumping rope before you start your day.

2. VISUALIZE your results and associate them with the habit before you start to go back to your old behavior. For example, if you have a problem with night eating, before you go into the kitchen actively remember what your goal is and let that visualization remind you of your new habit.

3. REAP SMALL REWARDS for sticking to your habit. If you wake up 5 minutes earlier to workout, allow yourself 5 minutes more of TV.

4. DON’T SET YOURSELF UP FOR FAILURE. If your goal is to not have alcohol everyday, don’t have ANY in your house!

5. ANALYZE your habit and PLAN for exactly what you need to make it work everyday. For example, if you want to make a habit of going to the gym after work everyday, start by planning to pack your gym bag every night before bed.

So remember there’s really no such thing as motivation: it’s all about habit. Create those new ones today and you will have a better body in no time!

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